Pack Your Bags


  • It takes approximately 12 million barrels of oil to produce the 100 billion plastic bags used in the United States every year.
  • 50 million plastic bags end up as litter every year, costing taxpayers $10 billion to clean up.
  • Plastic bags clog wastewater treatment plants and get tangled in machinery at recycling facilities, leading to costly delays and repairs.
  • Plastic bags pose threats to fish and wildlife in their natural habitats.
  • Paper bags use more water and have a greater carbon footprint than plastic bags.


When someone asks, “Paper or plastic” say, “Neither!”

Bring reusable bags to the store. Any store.

Pack Your Bags!

Where can I get reusable bags?

Most retail stores have inexpensive reusable bags for sale. OCCA has a limited number of reusable bags–some made from cloth, some made from repurposed pet food and animal feed bags–available for a small donation at our events.

Attractive and durable bags can be made from old t-shirts, repurposed pet and animal feed bags, and many other items. This is a fun project to do with kids or friends!

Below is a three-part video demonstrating how to make tote bags from pet food bags (total time of all three videos ~40 minutes):

To make bags from t-shirts:

New York’s “Bag Ban”

Beginning on March 1, 2020 the New York State Bag Waste Reduction Act will effectively ban single-use, plastic carryout bags. Any retail establishment required to collect New York State sales tax will no longer be able to provide plastic carryout bags, with some exceptions. Paper bags may be available; the law allows municipalities to impose a fee of 5 cents/bag for paper. As of January, 2020, Otsego County has chosen not to opt in for this fee. Customers cannot be charged for bringing their own bags. Stores are not obligated to offer bags at all. Again, the best choice is to bring your own bag.

Have questions? The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has information for consumers and retailers.

Bag and Film Plastic Recycling

In 2009, New York State enacted the Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act which requires certain stores to recycle single-use plastic bags. This law was amended in 2015 to include a wider range of film plastics, including produce bags, package wrap, shrink wrap and more. Despite the “Bag Ban,” stores will still be required to comply with this law. Click here to learn what materials can be recycled and where you can take them to do so. Please remember: Plastic bags and film plastic should never be put in your recycling bin or dropped off with other recyclables at the transfer station!

How You Can Help Protect Our Local Environment

Donations provide the foundation for our work throughout Otsego County. By becoming a supporter of OCCA, you become a part of a unique countywide environmental organization whose mission is to protect local natural resources for the benefit of all. 


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7207 State Highway 80, PO Box 931 • Cooperstown, NY  13326
(607) 547-4488